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[rab-duh-man-see] /ˈræb dəˌmæn si/
divination by means of a rod or wand, especially in discovering ores, springs of water, etc.
Origin of rhabdomancy
1640-50; < Late Greek rhabdomanteía; see rhabdo-, -mancy
Related forms
rhabdomantist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rhabdomancy
Historical Examples
  • It is not water, but treasures which they profess to find by some hidden kind of rhabdomancy.

  • rhabdomancy, a species of divination by means of a hazel rod to trace the presence of minerals or metals under ground.

    The Nuttall Encyclopaedia Edited by Rev. James Wood
  • Hazel-rods were used to "divine" for water and minerals by professors of an art which received the crack-jaw title of rhabdomancy.

    Miscellanea Juliana Horatia Ewing
  • Sir Thomas Browne also speaks of a 'strange kind of exploration and peculiar way of rhabdomancy' used in mineral discoveries.


    Benjamin Taylor
British Dictionary definitions for rhabdomancy


divination for water or mineral ore by means of a rod or wand; dowsing; divining
Derived Forms
rhabdomantist, rhabdomancer, noun
Word Origin
C17: via Late Latin from Late Greek rhabdomanteia, from rhabdos a rod + manteia divination
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for rhabdomancy

1640s, "use of divining rod" (especially to discover ores or underground water), from Greek rhabdos "rod, wand; magic wand; fishing rod; spear-shaft; a staff of office; a rod for chastisement; twig, stick" + manteia "divination, oracle" (see -mancy). Greek rhabdos is from PIE *wer-, base of roots meaning "to turn, bend" (cf. Lithuanian virbas "twig, branch, scion, rod," Latin verbena "leaves and branches of laurel"); see warp (v.); the Greek noun was used to represent Roman fasces. Related: Rhabdomantic

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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